Four Of 5 Athens County Public Schools Score Below Reading Average

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More than 80 Athens County third-graders may have to repeat their last year as a result of failing to hit the state’s grade level reading benchmark. 

While Athens City Schools saw the greatest number of students failing to make minimum score for advancement to fourth grade, Trimble had the greatest percentage of those failing to make the grade. Federal Hocking Local students were the most successful in reading proficiency.

The percentages of Athens County third-graders passing the tests as reported to the Ohio Department of Education are:

– Athens City – 83.6
– Alexander – 86.5
– Federal Hocking – 93.8
– Nelsonville- York – 85.6
– Trimble – 70.20

The number of students "eligible for retention" in those systems are:

– Athens City – 30
– Alexander – 17
– Federal Hocking – 5
– Nelsonville- York – 14
– Trimble – 17

Students with special circumstances such as those with an Individualized Education Plan or IEP are not included in the numbers.

The results mean that four of the five Athens Co. schools tested below the state average “passing rate” for the Third Grade Reading Guarantee.

While Federal Hocking was the only county school district testing above the state average with a 93.8 percent passage rate seventy-five of the district’s 80 third graders passed the test. Federal Hocking ranked 251st out of 609 public schools.

In Ohio, 88.5 percent of the state’s 119,393 third graders passed the reading test that was given in both October and May; 11.5 percent of all third graders failed to meet the minimum state reading standards.

The percentage of students failing to meet the requirements in Athens County was higher than the state average. Some 543 third graders in the county took the test and 460 passed. That means that 83 third graders or 15.3 percent failed the test after two attempts with 84.7 percent passing – almost 3 percent behind the state average.

Alexander Local Schools had 109 of 126 pass placing the system in the bottom 20 percent of the state’s public schools.

Nelsonville-York Schools ranked third in the county. The passage rate was nearly 3 percentage points below the state average putting Nelsonville-York in the state’s bottom 17 percent.

Athens City Schools did not fare well on the tests. Only 153 of 183 third-graders passed. The passage rate of 83.6 percent is almost 5 percent below the state average. Athens ranked 529th out of the 609 public schools.

Finally, Trimble Local Schools placed in the bottom 2 percent of the state. This is a passage rate is some 18.3 percent below the state average.

Of the 119,393 students taking the test 13,712 Ohio 3rd graders face the possibility that they’ll have to repeat the grade. Summer and mid-year testing programs will certainly reduce that number according to John Charlton, Associate Director of Communications for the Ohio Department of Education.

This is the first year the retention-reality kicks in on the Third Grade Reading Guarantee and the requirements likely mean greater numbers of students being held back but Charlton could not say whether those numbers will set records for those being retained.

There are multiple options available for a student who does not pass the test, according to the Ohio Department of Education’s website. One option is retaining the student in the third grade.

“If the student remains in the third grade, the school must provide a high-performing reading teacher and 90 minutes of reading instruction each school day,” according to the website.

A student can advance and take fourth grade classes in all other subjects except reading, if the student is considered “ready” by the school.

Students also can move forward to the fourth grade in the middle of the next school year if “the student’s reading improves.”

Each school will make a decision about the proper course of academic action for each student depending on the needs and abilities of each student.

Regardless of the short-term retentions Charlton said it is better to fix the reading problems now than to allow them to persist through high school when more damage has been done to individual student’s education. He said that alternative would most likely lead to students' dropping out in their junior year.